Seattle approves $600 million KeyArena renovation

KeyArena is expected to be renovated by 2020. (AP)

Seattle City Council has approved a $600 million deal to renovate KeyArena in hopes to land a professional sports franchise.

Seattle officials gathered to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Oak View Group who intend to re-develop KeyArena.

Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is hopeful that Seattle will once again be a city that hosts concerts, and professional sporting events.

“We have work to do, we have a lot of work to do. But we will deliver. You will be proud of what we deliver… This is the only major metropolitan area in the United States without either an NHL or NBA team, we are going to fix that.” – Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group CEO

Oak View Group CEO, Tim Leiweke promises to
bring back NBA or NHL to seattle.

The former home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics, which has been active since 1962, could home a potential NHL franchise and possibly bring back an NBA team. Seattle City council voted 7-1 in favour of fixing up the building  and the renovation is expected to finish up for 2020.

If the NHL does decide to open up shop in Seattle, what could that mean for Canuck Nation north of the border? A potential I-5 rivalry does sound intriguing, but would it work?

Hockey Night in Canada Analyst Bhupinder Hundal believes the impact will be beneficial for both Seattle and Vancouver.

“The corporate base in Seattle is strong, the population base is also there, and it’s going to be positive economically for Seattle, especially with Canadians from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton travelling down to catch a game.” – Bhupinder Hundal, Hockey Night in Canada

The NHL has expressed interest in expanding. This past year Las Vegas was awarded a franchise with a $500 million price tag.

Some Seattle residents weren’t happy with the city’s approval.

Despite not having a professional hockey team, Washington state is home to 4 major junior teams which play in the Western Hockey League (WHL) including the Seattle Thunderbirds. Everett is home to the Silvertips, and only a 40 minute drive to Seattle, while Kennewick, and Spokane each home their own teams, but are both close to 4 hours away from the Emerald city.

Relocation is also a possibility with teams like Arizona always on the hot seat, and most recently the Calgary Flames with their arena woes.

Other cities in the running for NHL teams, are Houston and Quebec City.